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Monday, December 11, 2017

What I’m Reading: December Issue of Indie Picks

Have you subscribed to Indie Picks yet for your library? The December issue is out and I have three reviews that showcase the full breadth of horror from spooky to terrifying and a feature interview.  [You can visit the horror blog here for the feature interview]

You can click here to see tons of sample material. This magazine is a must read for library workers and patrons. We work very hard to let you know about a small sample of the independently published, books that would be perfect for your library, if only you knew to buy them.  You can click here to read my longer post about why Indie Picks is worth your money.

Today I have my draft reviews from this issue. A final reminder though. I pick these books very carefully. I truly believe most public libraries should add every title I include. I wouldnt review them if I didnt think they would work for a general public library audience. To help you booktalk each title I have also included multiple readalike options at the end of each review and my “three words."

Becky’s December 2017 DRAFT Indie Picks Magazine Horror Column

Horror is more popular than ever, but what readers find horrific is highly personal and varies widely from those who cannot handle more than a few ghosts to some who want to intensely experience the fear with all five of their senses. Thankfully, there is a wide range of horror to satisfy just about every reader, from spooky to terrifying here are three options that capture the full spectrum of thrills and chills.

Spooky Suspense

Patricia V. Davis follows up her National Book Critics Circle Award nominated COOKING FOR GHOSTS with her second entry in the Secret Spice Cafe series, SPELLS AND OREGANO [HD Media Press, Inc; 978-0-9899056-8-8; $15.95; 2017]. Once again the setting is on the Queen Mary, and its well known status as one of the most haunted places in America sets the uneasy atmosphere before you even open the cover, and once you do open it, Davis hits the ground running with an excellent dual plotline, supernatural thriller. Sarita is the manager of The Secret Spice Cafe, the upscale restaurant aboard the Queen Mary [founded in book one]. She is a troubled young woman with psychic abilities and a strong connection to the ship’s spirits. Luca is a young man who has suffered much personal loss but a family connection draws him to the Queen Mary. Luca and Sarita meet and fall in love, but their pasts are literally coming back to haunt them. As Sarita and Luca’s stories unfold, their plot lines converge, and the danger increases. Along the way, Davis throws in well developed secondary characters and many engaging and well researched details about food, magicians, psychics, and the stately Queen Mary herself, all without sacrificing the compelling pace; in fact, these details are equally as engrossing as the heart-racing suspense. By the end the stakes are high and all are held breathless awaiting the shocking conclusion. Don’t worry if you missed the first book in the series, this one can stand alone. It is perfect for both readers who enjoy the supernatural psychological suspense of Jennifer McMahon and also those who love Nora Roberts’ storytelling prowess across many genres. This is spooky suspense that will frighten just enough to make readers give any movement in the shadows a hard, second look.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Supernatural Suspense, Multiple Storylines, Interesting Frame

Dark Dread

There is no question the dread and fear are ratched up in the next book, a dark fantasy by John Urbancik, THE CORPSE AND THE GIRL FROM MIAMI [DarkFluidity; 978-0-99838-824-3; $15; 2017]. The unease grabs the reader from the very first scene and really never lets go. A man returns from the dead, resurrected in a cemetery, in the driving rain, in a seedy section of Boston, with no memory, only an ID with an address. With no other options, he heads to the address and meets Ofelia and Mr Maker, both who have been waiting for him. Ofelia is a fem fatale who wants revenge, Mr Maker, a being with connections to a mythological world standing just outside of our own, and our corpse, Lucas, is just trying to figure out who he is and how he fits into the story. The three protagonists, in their three storylines, are laid out in alternating chapters, with the point of view quickly bouncing back and forth. Readers will be engrossed, turning the pages, following the leads, seeing the stories converge, and finding out that they are all after the same thing-- a diamond with more power than any of them can imagine. The mythological details about the magic inherent in a place are captivating, the old fashioned pulp heist story fantastic, and the resurrected corpses add just the right amount of supernatural horror. Come for the awesome action and world building, but stay for the characters, especially Lucas as he searches for the answers to the man he was and struggles to figure out who he is supposed to be now. This original, dark fantasy tale is a must read for fans of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series with touches reminiscent of Seanan McGuire and Gaiman’s American Gods.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Mythological Tone, Engrossing, Original

Traditional Terror

While the first two books showcase how horror can slip into stories that are firmly rooted in other genres, sometimes readers just want a traditional tale of terror by a master of the form. Enter Bentley Little and his terrifying supernatural mystery THE HANDYMAN [Cemetery Dance Publications; 978-1-58767-616-1; $25; 2017]. Daniel, now an adult real estate agent, recounts the story of his family’s encounters with Frank, the handyman who built their Arizona vacation home back in the 1980s, who at best is a con artist, but at worst is a man with a connection to an otherworldly evil. Daniel thought his family was the only one destroyed by Frank and the homes he built, but after hearing a client mention the problems with his family’s “Frank” home, Daniel goes on a cross country search to try to understand the truth behind Frank. What Daniel undercovers, however, is much more sinister and dangerous than he could have ever imagined, and now his life and all those he knows and loves may be in perilous danger. Told in three distinct parts each with a unique style, the terror intensifies throughout. Part one reads like a traditional supernatural investigation, while part two is a series of impressions of Frank from the point of view of others over the years, and finally, part three brings Daniel and his friends back for the horrific and disorienting conclusion. Little has also infused the story with Asian horror influences, some overt and others more subtle. The result is a trippy and terrifying story of an insidious horror hidden just behind the walls. Pair this with other terrifying, surreal tales of deadly haunted homes like THE HOUSE OF LEAVES by Danielewski or SLADE HOUSE by Mitchell. Fair warning though, don’t hire anyone to do work on your house for a few weeks before or after reading this one.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Terrifying, Surreal, Asian Influences

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